Champagne and poppers will be served at the May 24th opening of Spazio Punch's "Cruising Pavilion."
For the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, taking place later this month, an Italian art collective will highlight the latent sexual potency of public spaces and the architecture with a “cruising pavilion.” Sponsored by the Spazio Punch gallery, the installation recalls the bathrooms and backrooms and parking lots that have long been sites of eroticism, for (mostly) men and women. These sites, write the pavilion’s organizers, have been “relegated to the realm of depravity.”
The playful perversion of spaces built for cleanliness and propriety is often lost in the logic of expanding cities, the clean facades of morality that cling to every new urban development. The pavilion is a welcome rejoinder to the chosen theme for the 2018 Biennale, Freespace. Or, how communities can reclaim the ideals of public spaces, a term that “describes a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture’s agenda” write the event’s organizers. Yet, the Cruising Pavilion’s curators have called out the Biennale’s theme has woefully incurious in its scope, that is, its heteronormative as hell.
“Architecture is a sexual practice and cruising is one of the most crucial acts of dissidence,” the Cruising Pavilion’s curators write in their announcement. “In the bathrooms built for cleanliness and the parks made for peacefulness, and also through the figures of the policeman and the flâneur, the modern city is cruised, dismantled and made into a drag of itself. The dungeon becomes playful, the labyrinth protective, and the baths erotic. If ‘architectural discourse is a deodorizer,’ then cruising is the powerful human smell that haunts the dreams of Jean Genet.”
Both Venice Art and Architecture Biennales has become increasingly self-conscious about their track record of glazing over marginalized communities. Last year, the diaspora pavilion contested the idea of nation states by using the prism of artist collaboration across different nationalities. This year, 71 participants will cover the Central Pavilion (Giardini) to the Arsenale throughout the months of May, June, and July—but the chances of another pavilion serving champagne and poppers at their opening party are highly unlikely